India's Pharmaceutical Machine Manufacturers: From Imitation to Innovation - Pharmaceutical Technology

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India's Pharmaceutical Machine Manufacturers: From Imitation to Innovation

Pharmaceutical Technology

Thermolab Scientific Equipments Pvt. Ltd. recently acquired one such facility to diversify into the pharmaceutical manufacturing industry. Unprecedented among Indian pharmaceutical-machine manufacturers, Thermolab acquired an injectables manufacturing facility from Korten Pharmaceutical Pvt. Director Sandip Mhatre formulates his strategy for the purchase, "Despite our yearly 70% growth and 65% market share in stability testing and walk-in chambers, we foresee stagnancy in the industry for the upcoming years. That's why we wanted to diversify. We took over a small contract-manufacturing unit making injectables for Novartis and Merck. The facility is FDA- and UK-MHRA-approved, and Novartis recently has audited and inspected the facility so that we may continue manufacturing for them." Mhatre continued, "With the excess capacity, we plan on producing and exporting small-volume parentals like ampuls and vials. We estimate this will expand our business fourfold and allow us to compete in international markets."

This may paint a rosy picture for the IPMMs, yet there is much room for improvement if Indian manufacturers wish to catch up with the competition. Western branded pharmaceutical machines still tend to provide more automation than their Indian equivalents. They often yield higher volumes and operate at greater production speeds. Sometimes Western machines include more detailed documentation for after-sales support and maintenance and have sophisticated metallurgy that protects them from wear and tear during long hours of operation.

Parekh believes that, regardless of the differences between Indian and Western manufacturers, "there are two distinct buyers: the ones that are interested in Indian machines and would never consider buying machines from the West, and the ones interested in buying machines from the West that would not consider an Indian machine, regardless of the price. They both have their own market of customers to cater to, so there isn't much competition with the West." Parekh's company illustrates this distinction: it imports pharmaceutical machines from Switzerland and Germany and sells them to the Indian market.

Even if the IPMMs have established their own international or domestic markets, India's imperfect infrastructure prevents the development of reliable, on-time supply chains. High property values inhibit cost-effective expansions to increase capacity, forcing companies to expend effort and resources to construct new facilities in undeveloped areas. Considering that they also face missed deadlines and overcapacity that necessitates scheduling operations from six months to a year ahead, the IPMMs seem to have their work cut out for them.

Overall, it is indisputable that IPMMs are well poised to exploit international markets and opportunities. Paralleling the growth of Indian pharmaceutical companies, IPMMA reports an annual growth rate of 10% for the industry, nearly twice that of the European and US pharmaceutical-machine industries' recorded growth. Certain IPMMs have reported triple-digit growth. Against the background of a growing economy and exports that have doubled annually during the last two years, IPMMs are forging a new image by jumping up the value chain and changing from the imitators to the innovators of technology. They manage to emerge as potent partners for Western players willing to step in the Asian foray with fresh competitive advantages. For decades, manufacturers observed their competition closely. Now is the time for them to align competencies and exchange know-how and experience to go the next mile. Like the pharmaceutical industry, the machine-making industry has proven its worth. Now it is time to move to the next stage.

This report was prepared by Executive Country Reviews by Yaz Yazicioglu
and Emmanuelle Berthemet


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